Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Miss Bennet and Mr Bingley by Fenella J Miller

from Amazon: 
In Miss Bennet & Mr Bingley, Fenella J Miller returns to Jane Austen's best loved novel, Pride and Prejudice, giving an insight into both Charles and Jane's private thoughts through that difficult year. We discover what Jane did in London and how Charles filled the days until he was able to return to Netherfield. This book takes us past the wedding - when Kitty Bennet becomes the heroine of the hour. ""Jane Bennet is in the spotlight in Fenella-Jane Miller's delightful novel. We see Jane's growing love for Bingley as well as her view of Elizabeth and Darcy's unfolding relationship, and we find out what happened to her in London when she thought all was lost. Humorous, engaging and true to Jane Austen's world, this is a charming read for Austen fans."" Amanda Grange is the bestselling author of Mr Darcy's Diary, (Mr Knightley's Diary, Captain Wentworth's Diary)

I am a bit in love with the idea of this book.  I've always been so caught up in Lizzie and Darcy's story that I've sort of ignored all of the other connections in the book.  I think each is really worth being explored - Lydia's disastrous marriage to Wickham, Charlotte's desperate marriage to Collins -- but especially the nearly thwarted love between Jane and Bingley.  Here we have a couple who are enamored almost from the start, and there has to be a reason more than their general amiability.  The idea of getting to explore this and experience all of the little flutters of budding love between these two, and then their painful separation, in which each is convinced the other doesn't love them, culminating in their glorious reunion -- this really appeals to me, and I think there is a lot of potential in it for a great story.

Unfortunately, I felt like I was reading a first draft of this story.  I don't know if I've ever talked about my years spent as a college-level writing tutor (helping people write better papers, not helping people learn to write -- it always amuses me when people mistake what I did), but reading this, I felt Tutor Misty kick in.  My hand was itching for sticky tabs and colored pens.  I often had to read things over a second time to get the correct tone of it -- commas were misplaced or misused, or not in use at all when they should have been; quotes were unattributed, and pronouns were often unclear (ie: who the hell is talking, and who the hell is being talked about?).  There were missing and incorrect words (dual v duel, etc -- and that's setting aside the fact that there was an effing duel in the story).  I know there are people who can set things like this aside, or who don't know grammar rules themselves, so things like this just slip by them.  I, however, had a hard time getting past it.  I couldn't get into the flow because I was constantly wanting to correct.

I also wasn't totally convinced of the story Miller created.  Jane and Bingley's time apart was filled with instances that I just didn't buy, and I felt the characters throughout the book (not just J & B), as well as their dialogue and actions just felt a bit forced and inauthentic.  Things felt obvious and heavy-handed at times, and the prose was underdeveloped in favor of placing info and actions in the words of the characters, creating forced and unnatural dialogue, as well as a sense of dissatisfaction overall -- like I wasn't getting the meat of it, I was never really getting to delve into this hidden-in-plain-site love affair, which I was looking forward to doing.

Now, I hate writing really negative reviews, and I don't want to completely warn people off of this book.  I think that with work and development, I could actually like it, but the combination of a pure "fanfic" feel, my expectations and desires for a nuanced and somewhat bittersweet love story, and my uber-tutor spideysense worked together to make me pretty critical of this one.  I'm sorry that's the case, and I hope I don't make Ms. Miller mad, or regret participating in Jane in June, but such is life.  I am always honest, if not completely tactful.

The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview

from Amazon:
A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum...
Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal,
Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning!
And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin, to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper" Mrs. Jenkinson, simply...vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man...

I haven't read the precursor to this book, The Other Mr Darcy, so I don't know how they fit together or how having read the one would have influenced my opinion of the other.  I do know that having Caroline Bingley as a character -- even a minor one -- put me on guard, which was sort of funny.

Beyond that, where to begin?  I was very excited to see that this story expands on two of the women I wanted to know more about in P&P, Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy.  They were both so shy and retiring, such complete wallflowers, but you knew there had to be more to them.  Georgiana is the focus of this story (as well as her American cousin, Clarissa), but Anne certainly has her part to play.  I enjoyed this, and thought Fairview did an admirable job of breaking them out of their shells believably.

Fairview mimics Austen fairly well, both in language and style, and follows her storylines (and patterns) to an extent that I at first thought I was going to be irritated -- that it was simply going to be a case of the same story with different names, which irritates me.  This wasn't the case.  Many similar things to occur, but in a way that show the differences between Georgiana and Lizzie.  This makes sense, as they have two different characters, and it was fun to see different reactions and ways of acquiting themselves in social situations.
The story is predictable, of course, but not necessarily in a bad way.  I love banter, and I enjoyed myself reading it;  it was full of those little moments that I love where something is on the verge of happening, but doesn't.  I think layering these in a story lays the groundwork for what is coming, but keeps it from coming too soon and losing it's power.  It's a teasing game that keeps the reader engaged and looking for the next flirtation with the inevitable, and it's one of the things I loved in Austen's romances -- of course you knew where they were headed, but it never bothered you just sitting back and watching it get there, no matter how long it took.  It even has me curious to read The Other Mr Darcy and find out how Caroline is able to work herself into my good graces.  And that's saying something. ;p

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Interview with Lynn Shepherd, author of Murder at Mansfield Park

[Note and apology (and irritation at Blogger): This interview should have posted on the 25th, as scheduled, with the rest of Lynn's pieces -- thanks, Blogger!
Very sorry, Lynn -- but how's about a little plug to compensate?  Lynn shepherd's Murder at Mansfield Park is pretty damn awesome, and I think you should go read it! :p]

Today we have a pretty fantastic interview with Lynn Shepherd, author of Murder at Mansfield Park; welcome Lynn!
Tell us a little bit about your motivation behind writing Murder at Mansfield Park; Fanny is notoriously Austen's least popular hero, and you've given us even more reasons to want to throttle her...
I first studied Mansfield Park for my school leaving exams at age 18, and even then I remember thinking how different it was from Pride & Prejudice. I found it hard to like Fanny then, and I kept wondering why Austen had made her the heroine, when she seemed to have such an obvious alternative in Mary Crawford! Even them, it seemed to me that there was another Mansfield Park struggling to get out, and one of the motivations for me was to see if I could unearth that ‘other’ Mansfield Park – something lighter and funnier, and more like Pride & Prejudice, with a heroine much more like Elizabeth Bennet, too. As for Fanny, even Jane Austen’s mother thought she was ‘insipid’, so it’s not just a modern preference for gutsier heroines. I must admit I’ve always loved that Kingsley Amis quote about her being a ‘monster of complacency and pride’, and it was enormous fun to take that quote and push it to its logical extreme.

Fanny's character is not the only shake-up in the book; you seemed to have played a little personality-switch game.  How did you decide who ended up with what personality, and do you have any desires to "reshake" them up and do another shuffle?
It was fun to play a little with the characters – playfulness in general is one of the things I hope people will find in this book. Some of Austen’s characters are so powerful I didn’t need to do much with them (like Mrs Norris), but I enjoyed making Edmund more human and vulnerable, and giving Henry Crawford a dangerous darker side. And it did make me laugh to turn Mr Rushworth from being the nonentity no-one bothers about, to the biggest hit with the girls! A lot of this, of course, comes down to the money, which is always so crucial in Austen. The minute you make Henry and Mary poor, and Fanny rich, the whole balance of power and influence shifts.

One of the things I most liked about your take on MP was that you didn't just use Austen's words and occasionally interpose your own to try to claim a "new" slant: this read like its own story, but with ties to the original, like an altiverse-Austen.  What was behind this decision, and how has the reception to this been?
I did work very hard to get the language right – I have an academic background, even though that isn’t my actual job - and I decided from the outset that if I was going to do this at all, I would do it properly! As for the idea of an ‘altiverse’, you’re right – it goes back to what I said about unearthing the ‘other’ Mansfield Park – the Mansfield Park Jane Austen could have written, but decided not to.  So far almost everyone has been really enthusiastic – of course there will always be some people who don’t like the idea of fiddling with classic works at all (though they should remember Austen did quite a bit of that herself!), but I’ve had a lot of truly wonderful feedback from the UK and Australia, where the book’s been out a couple of months now. I think readers can tell how much I love and respect Austen’s work, and that Murder at Mansfield Park has been written in that spirit.

You in effect had to write two different types of stories, one a literary period piece and one a murder mystery: what was this process like for you? How much research was involved, and what useful bits did you learn?

You’re right, the book broadly divides into an ‘Austen’ half, and a ‘murder’ half. The first part was very much about taking a new angle on the characters and episodes of the original – each time with a new twist. The research aspect of that was all about the language, and I genuinely did check just about every word, to make sure it was either used by her, or in use at the time.  Thank goodness that these days you can just download the novels and do a wordsearch! Though you still have to be careful, because a word may be there, but the way it’s used may be quite different. One of my favourite examples is ‘atmosphere’, which Austen only uses in the very narrow context of the weather, and not in a more general way as a synonym for ‘mood’ or ‘ambience’.  The second half of the book is much more ‘mine’, and that was enormous fun to write. I had to do a lot of reading about the criminal justice system in the early years of the 19th century - England had no police force then, and the victims of a serious crime like murder either had to rely on catching the perpetrator red-handed, or (if you could afford it) pay for a ‘thief taker’ to investigate it for them, which is what happens in the book.

Any plans to rework any of Austen's other work, or any other classics?

Not Austen next time, but possibly something similar with something else – watch this space!

If M@MP was to be made into a movie (and you had a say), who would you cast in the principal roles?
I would truly love to see Philip Glenister play Maddox – he’s a British actor who has exactly the right combination of bad boy charm and a dash of danger. US viewers may have seen in him the first series of the BBC Cranford. As for the others, I don’t have such strong views, so over to your readers – who would you like to see playing Fanny and Mary?

What rules should one follow to avoid being offed in a Regency murder mystery?

Try not to make yourself into a ‘monster of complacency and pride’!

Who is your favorite JA character?
I have to say Mary Crawford, but I also have huge admiration for Elinor Dashwood, and Captain Wentworth.

Favorite side-character?

Ones that make me laugh! Mrs Elton, Mr Collins.

Character you most want to shake?
Fanny Price – of course!

If you could visit any one location in one of Jane's novels – besides Pemberley! -- what would it be and why?

Probably Lyme Regis – I have been there, but it was a long time ago, and I’d love to go again.

Picture yourself as Charlotte (Lucas) Collins -- now, swallow back the horror of that and give us a brief idea of your day-to-day...How do you keep your sanity?

By finding Mr Collins interminable and arduous domestic tasks that keep him occupied from dawn till dark, and leave him too tired to do anything much thereafter….!

Would you rather spend the day with Lady Catherine or Mrs. Bennet?
Lady Catherine – it would be a delicious piece of civilized conversational duelling – I would certainly give that lady as good as I got!

Which "bad boy" would you rather end up with: Wickham or Willoughby?

If I can’t opt for my personal favourite, Henry Crawford, then Willoughby I think – but perhaps I’m being too influenced by an image of Greg Wise on a white horse!

You van have Greg Wise as long as I can have my Willoughby, Dominic Cooper.  Mmm...

Thanks, Lynn!!!

Dear Jane, from Liz

Dear Jane


Dear Jane,

I can hardly begin to describe how happy it has made me to see bloggers spend the past month celebrating you, your work and the adaptations it has inspired. To have so many people with whom I can discuss (or gush) about your work is a wonderful thing, and I am happy that you have so many fans. It is true that any day of the week I will blather about your heroes or the humor of your work.

However, I recently learned that while these may be factors in my adoration of your novels, that your characters and the struggles have inspired me over the years. As I write this letter, I think particularly of the romances between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice and Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey. Both of these are marriages which your characters went into, knowing that family members disapproved because of wealth and social stature. Yet they allowed love to triumph anyways, instead of doing what was expected of them.

I am very lucky. I have a family who would be supportive if I married someone with less wealth than I, so the truth is that I will likely never find myself in the same situation as any of these characters. However, I continue to love these characters because they are bold and defiant for the sake of their own happiness. I’ve just graduated from college and while I keep busy volunteering during the day, I’m still working out a larger plan and at times, watching friends graduate to internships and paying jobs made me feel a bit inadequate at times, and like I’m not quite doing what I should.

No, I’m not defying expectations in the same way that your characters did, but I think I’ll ultimately emerge from this awkward transitional period and be happy, just as your couples are at the end of their stories. Your novels remind me of a question I often ask myself: “What kind of world would we live in if people only did what others wanted them to do?” And ultimately, they remind me that this world would be boring, and probably not one I would I want to live in. Thus I continue doing what I think will allow me to make the impact I want on the world and provide me with happiness, with the help of your guidance. Thank you.


Monday, June 28, 2010

frowny face

Attn: Jane in Juners~
I have come home from ALA to a family crisis, and as a result am going to have to curtail my JnJ posts a bit, and cut some that were planned. I likely won't be able to post until tomorrow night or Wednesday (the final day), so don't be surprised when I go incommunicado. My apologies to Monica Fairview and Fenella J Miller, whose books I have yet to review - rest assured the reviews WILL go up in June, with as much thought and attention as I give any other review.
Sorry and hope to talk to you all soon.

Austen Hero Essay from Casey

Casey at The Bookish Type shared an awesome essay she wrote on the similarities between Austen.  She makes a lot of really excellent points, and I highly recommend that you go read it.  Here are some of the highlights for me:

"In Mansfield Park, the character most resembling Jane Austen’s best-loved hero, Mr. Darcy, is not the hero Edmund, but the mischief-causing libertine Henry Crawford. Henry resembles Darcy in many ways. Fanny begins by justifiably despising him in the same way Elizabeth did Darcy; his affections were the first to change, just as Darcy’s were. Both men, upon having their proposals flatly refused, set out to raise themselves in their beloved’s esteem, and both encountered them away from the main setting of action and proved themselves exceptionally civil to their purportedly inferior relations. Finally, both men did the two women a great service – Darcy saved Elizabeth’s sister Lydia from the scandal of eloping with Wickham as much as she could be saved, and Henry brought about Fanny’s brother William’s promotion in the navy."

"Mary Crawford is the Elizabeth Bennet figure in Mansfield Park, but she is seen from a different perspective than Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a vibrant and sparkling heroine in her own story, but from the point of view of an introverted character like Fanny, she is overbearing to the point of pushing the rightful heroine into the shadows."

"Fanny and Edmund constantly try to steer each other to their own way of thinking, creating an undercurrent of tension. Elizabeth and Darcy did change one another over the course of Pride and Prejudice – Elizabeth learned to be less prejudiced, Darcy learned to be less proud – but they did so unintentionally. They did not actively try to change one another; rather, they made each other a better person in the way of the romantic ideal..."

"To those readers who fancy themselves an Elizabeth Bennet, Edmund is a grim fate. However, to readers who are of a disposition more akin to that of Fanny Price, who is perhaps the more typical of the two, Edmund is a desirable hero. Because Elizabeth was a singular heroine, she needed an extraordinary hero. Fanny, on the other hand, was an average and unwilling heroine; thus, she gained a hero to match her everydayness – but that is all she desired and more than she dared to hope for, and that made him extraordinary to her. "

To read more, go here

Interview with Monica Fairview, author of The Darcy Cousins, et al

On the 28th day of Jane in June, your Book Rat gives to you...
an interview with Monica Fairview, author of The Other Mr Darcy and The Darcy Cousins, among others.  Make sure that you check out the giveaway of these two books here, as well as my review of The Darcy Cousins (later today!).

Book Rat: You write on your website about being fascinated with the Regency period, and that "It was the last fling before the stolid and constricting values of the Victorian era tightened like a corset around them. " How does this mentality keep the writing fresh for you?  How do you show this in your stories? 

DSCN0098.JPGMonica Fairview: The Regency was a short window of time in which women suddenly acquired a certain physical freedom that they hadn’t had for centuries. Clothes got looser (though not for men), women’s bodies weren’t hidden or given strange unnatural shapes (see-through clothing, can you believe it!), hair was cut short (for symbolic reasons, to show support for the victims of the guillotine, but it still was a radical change) and more natural hairstyles (not wigs) prevailed. Even for us I think it’s quite startling to realize – at least at the beginning of the Regency – that they were wearing gauze-like clothes with just a thin layer of material under them and no underpants, and dampening them so their outline could show. Given the layers of clothing women had to wear before and after the regency, women really had it easy. Women could now actually walk quite fast because the hem crept up so the ankles were free. And half boots were quite sensible for walking (though not those thin ballet-style slippers).
The freshness of Pride and Prejudice for me – and why I love writing about the characters from there --  is that the Bennet girls break so many ‘rules,’ yet they somehow come out as winners on several levels. There are restrictions, but they’re not carved in stone.

BR: In The Darcy Cousins, you expand on two characters I've always wanted to see more of: Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh.  The latter especially has always fascinated me because a) just because she's sick doesn't mean she doesn't have a brain or desires, and b) growing up at Rosings with such a mother -- I've always wanted to know what she was thinking and wishing.  What was it like bringing these two very shy, internal characters to life?
MF: You’ve hit the nail on the head, Misty. I’ve always felt uneasy that Anne de Bourgh isn’t given much of a chance to reveal anything about herself, but of course that was in the context of Elizabeth thinking that Anne was supposed to marry Darcy. Elizabeth is quite mean about her, thinking that Darcy deserves someone sickly and cross because he’s so conceited. As for Georgiana, I can’t help thinking how much of a shock it must have been to discover the truth about Wickham at such a young age, and also how difficult it must have been to have no one to turn to – no mother or father, and with her brother away so much of the time – and then to end up with an unreliable governess/companion as well! There was a lot more to her that I wanted to explore.

BR: You seem to be pretty enamored of Pride and Prejudice, and your two books that are Austen-inspired are spin-offs of that story -- What is it about P&P specifically that caught your heart?
MF: The characters, all of them. I love every single one, including – as you may know – Caroline, since I tell her story in The Other Mr Darcy. I’m awed by Jane Austen’s ability to create such brilliant people, and I want to keep revisiting them over and over.

BR: Do you intend to work off of any of Austen's other writing?
MF: I would really like to, but I’m generally told that sequels of other Jane Austen don’t sell very well. Perhaps in the future.

BR: What do you make of the recent resurgence in all things Jane  (sequels, mash-ups, biopics, etc)?
MF: In our age of constant stimulation, bombardment from the media, and noise pollution, the idea of a by-gone era where things happen in slow motion – so to speak – is enormously appealing. But the paranormal is very dominant in fiction now, as it was during Jane Austen’s time, when the Gothic was all the rage. That was when Frankenstein and Dracula were born, after all. I think it’s fascinating that her writing became so popular again at the same time as the rise of the paranormal.  

BR: If you could be a fly on the wall during any Austen scene, what would it be and why?
MF: I’d have loved to be there during that second ‘proposal scene’ between Lizzy and Darcy. There is so much that isn’t said – or done. I’d also have liked to be at Rosings when Lizzy was there. As you’ve probably guessed, I find Lady Catherine fascinating, in a Gothic kind of way.   
BR: Any plans to work outside of the Regency period?
MF: Yes, I’m currently writing something from a completely different time period. The Regency has a special place in my heart, and I plan to continue to write in this period, but I want to explore a bit as well.

BR: If you had to sum up your Jane-love in six words, what would you say?
MF; Genius, insight, laughter, romance, precision and originality.

BR: Who is your favorite JA character?
MF: Anne Elliot from Persuasion.

BR: Favorite side-character?
MF: Margaret in Sense and Sensibility.

BR: Character you most want to shake?
MF: Fanny Price. She needs to live and let live. If she’s like this now, how will she be when older and she gets to be a Victorian? Her poor children!

BR: If you could visit any one location in one of Jane's novels -- besides Pemberley! -- what would it be and why?
MF: Northanger Abbey – I love the Gothic aspect of it.

BR: Picture yourself as Charlotte (Lucas) Collins -- now, swallow back the horror of that and give us a brief idea of your day-to-day. How do you keep your sanity?
MF: I think Charlotte knew what she was getting herself into, and planned for it accordingly. She cleverly sets Mr Collins up in the room that she knows will appeal to him, encourages him to garden, and generally nudges him in the direction she wants. She manages him very cleverly. Fortunately, he’s not sharp enough to realize it.

BR:  Which "bad boy" would you rather end up with: Wickham or Willoughby?
MF:  They’re both pretty awful, realistically. Now these are people I wouldn’t want to any spend time with. As far as charm goes, Wickham beats Willoughby because he’s too insensitive to know when he isn’t welcome. But they both seduce young girls – teenagers -- and they don’t have any conscience. There’s nothing redeemable about them.

BR: Would you rather spend the day with Lady Catherine or Mrs. Bennet?
MF: Both. I love them to death, even if they’d drive me to distraction. It would be great to have them spend a few days in each other’s company. That would be really fun. 

BR: Oh, the horror!  Definitely need some earplugs, I think.  There would be a lot of muttering under breath...
Thanks for joining us, Monica!! 

GIVEAWAY: The Other Mr Darcy + The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview

The Other Mr. Darcy: Did you know Mr. Darcy had an American 
cousin?In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin…
Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?

The Darcy Cousins
One might reasonably expect that a young lady dispatched in disgrace across the Atlantic to England would strive to behave with decorum, but Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning! And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin. And Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper," Mrs. Jenkinson, simply… vanishes.
In this tale of friendship, rebellion, and love, two young women entering Society forge a strong connection. A connection that is sorely tested when they both set out to win the heart of a most dashing—and dangerous— gentleman.

Thanks to author Monica Fairview and Danielle at Sourcebooks (you guys ROCK!), one lucky lovely is going to win a Monica Fairview prizepack consisting of The Other Mr Darcy and The Darcy Cousins!
All  you have to do is fill out this form!
Open to US and CAN residents only.
Ends July 5th

And make sure to check out my review of The Darcy Cousins, and my interview with Monica!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Jane Austen Book Club, from Tasheena

The Jane Austen Book ClubThe Jane Austen Book Club
By Karen Joy Flower

              There are two reasons why I choose The Jane Austen Book Club to review. First off I really enjoyed the movie and second I always wanted to be in a Jane Austen book club. Yes, I was a strange child. But the idea of coming together with others that love reading to talk about Austen’s books always seemed fascinating (and one never tires of calling Wickham a cad!).
              In the novel we follow six Californians over six months as they discuss Jane Austen and face the realties’ of life. Each month is dedicated to one member and one Austen book. In the beginning we are told that each person has their own private Austen and we discover who Austen is to each member.
              The book had a solid beginning, between the discussions and flashbacks of characters I found it fun and interesting. The point of view makes the reader feel like they are a part of the club itself and are sitting on the porch or in the living room listening to different opinions and ideas. But somewhere along the third or fourth section the book becomes more about the members and Jane gets a little left behind. Don’t get me wrong the characters, though a bit stereotypical, are compelling enough to carry the book. I just would have loved to hear as much discussion about Persuasion as Emma. Also the Pride and Prejudice month was a bit of a disappointment save for Bernadette’s stories.
              The members of the book club are very likable and Flower does a good job of making them either relatable or entertaining. The only major annoyance to me was how the ladies treated Grigg, the only male member, who with Bernadette was one of my favorite members. I know good characters have flaws but I didn’t feel  like the reader was given any solid reason why Grigg was meet with such resistance, other than him being male (I guess that was a good enough reason for the ladies).
Even though I had some disappointments with the novel I do believe that it is a good read and if you liked the movie then you would most likely enjoy the book as well. With the summer fast approaching I would recommend taking this book on one’s travels (even if you are just traveling to the porch).

Review by T.R. Smith

GIVEAWAY and Review: Cassandra and Jane (from Meredith)

Meredith over at Austenesque reviews gave us a lovely review of Cassandra and Jane (it's on my wishlist!), as well as a little something special: your very own, spanking-new copy of the book!

Meredith says:

"One aspect of this novel I took pleasure in was observing the connections and similarities between Jane Austen and many of her character creations. Through this novel I was able to imagine her as a Marianne Dashwood when she was young and in love with Tom Lefory, a satirical Elizabeth Bennet with her biting wit, and perhaps a little bit of a Charlotte Lucas when she contemplated a marriage of convenience. I was also able to observe how Cassandra was the inspiration for Jane's quieter and gentler characters such as Jane Bingley and Elinor Dashwood. I think Ms. Pitkeathley did a marvelous job of re-imagining and rendering the personalities of these sisters."

Want it?  Just click on the pic to read Meredith's full review and enter her giveaway!

GIVEAWAY: Lizzie Fashions Set from The Antique Fashionista!

I think today's giveaway from The Antique Fashionista is going to be a popular one.  I have 3 bookmarks of Jane Austen's best loved heroine, Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennet, in all of her Regency finery.   Since all three are of Lizzie, I've decided to split this one up: the winner of the Regency Ladies Survival Kit gets 1st choice, and then two other winners will get to fight over the remainders!
Each has the following quote inscribed on the back:
"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously.  A person may be proud without being vain.  Pride related more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."
Want it? 
Just fill out this form!  1 bonus entry if you visit Masha's Etsy store and tell me your favorite piece on the entry form! 
Contest is open INTERNATIONALLY; ends July 5th.  Good luck!

Dear Jane, From Elizabeth Darcy


My Dearest Jane,

I would like to begin by thanking you, gentle creator, for many things. First, my exasperating but ultimately loving family. Yes, all of them. Especially included is your namesake, my sweetest sister Jane. Her goodness is both a balm and an inspiration to me. Second, as unpleasant as the moment itself was, I want to thank you for the self-awareness and discernment that allowed me to truly understand the character of the man who is now my husband. I have kept the letter which began that necessary transformation, instead of burning it. I need to keep it--as a reminder of my faults and of his virtues. Finally, I must extend my humblest and most profound gratitude for the man himself, Fitzwilliam Darcy. I have been convinced my entire life that I could never enter into marriage without the ardent love which it is now my daily pleasure to enjoy, and my good fortune never ceases to amaze me. Happy is simply too small and flat a word to describe how I feel.

The addition to my heart of a new sister in Georgiana and the beautiful home I am now mistress of are your doing as well. I thrill to see the more sociable nature Fitzwilliam now cultivates in himself, and hope for my own part a wider knowledge of the world which it is possible for me to gain as his wife. I must admit, too, that financial security is a new but increasingly comfortable situation in which to find myself. The prospect of the future is now such a shining one that any vexation seems tolerable,  any trial bearable. I shall endeavor to be deserving of these blessings and wish fervently for everyone to experience similar gifts.

Thank you again and again.

Yours etc.,
Elizabeth Darcy*

*Thanks to Rachel for this DJ post!

Pride in Performance by Rachel S

Pride in Performance

In honor of my re-reading of Pride and Prejudice (my favorite novel of all time) this month, and given the fact that I am a huge film buff, I am eager at the moment to discuss a bit about that work onscreen. In addition, the venerated 1995 BBC miniseries version of the novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle received a brand-new remastered DVD edition near the end of April, so this is the adaptation that naturally draws my attention now.

Upon it’s airing in 1995, this production caused a stir with it’s infamous “wet shirt” scene, in which Firth’s Mr. Darcy dives into a small lake on his estate, Pemberley, as a means of temporary relief from his ardent feelings for Ehle’s Elizabeth Bennet. The scene polarized the Austen fan community--some loved the evidence this gives of Darcy‘s feelings, while others thought it inappropriate. (Pardon the recap, all you Janeites--I’m aware that you all already know this!) For me, this touch is indicative of what is the central and best characteristic of this version: it is thorough. Thorough to the point of tangibly representing the effect that Darcy’s feelings for Elizabeth have on him, which works in tandem with Austen’s words to demonstrate how dynamic a character he is.

Romance abounds in this adaptation, of course, but this is achieved through more than just Austen’s love story. The staging and performances throughout constantly emphasize the couple’s developing attraction, and one brief moment in particular just sends this into the stratosphere. During the scene in the second half in which Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle visit Pemberley for dinner, the close-up on Firth’s face as Ehle plays the piano is simply referred to by fans as “The Look”; if you’re a woman watching that scene and you DON’T want to be looked at that way, you need to check if you have a pulse. Seriously.

Of course, as Austen-philes, we want an adaptation to be thorough BECAUSE the story is romantic, as well as funny. Two people trading barbs to cover up attraction is too classic and entertaining a storyline not to enjoy, and many examples continue to be provided to audiences. Ron and Hermione in the Harry Potter series is another favorite of mine, while just recently, the new film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has it’s lead couple bicker. And there are many more to choose from. Pride and Prejudice certainly has other versions onscreen to get lost in, but after re-reading my favorite novel of all time this month, I think I will watch the 1995 BBC miniseries all over again. 

~ Rachel

Saturday, June 26, 2010

GIVEAWAY: According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

According To JaneIt begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's teacher is assigning Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". From nowhere comes a quiet 'tsk' of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there. Jane's wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go - sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham. Still, everyone has something to learn about love - perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending.

 Want it?  Fill out this form for your chance to win a signed copy from author Marilyn Brant, and make sure to check out my review and interview with Marilyn!
Open to US residents only (sorry, worldfriends!)
Ends July 5th.

Review: According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

According To Janefrom Goodreads: 
It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's  teacher is assigning Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". From nowhere  comes a quiet 'tsk' of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad  boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten.  Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up  residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there. Jane's  wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and  beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own.  Years and boyfriends come and go - sometimes a little too quickly,  sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on  the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is  your Mr. Wickham. Still, everyone has something to learn about love -  perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is  being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she  thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy  ending.

 I read this with my bookclub, so I'm actually going to give you my thoughts on the book, and some of theirs.  Let me start by saying that though I don't think this is the book for everyone, and I debate the "gimmickiness" of the premise, I really enjoyed myself reading this book.  It had it's drawbacks, but I really did like it more than I generally like Austen spin-offs or contemporary fiction.  I was leery of the whole "Jane's voice in my head" thing, just because I thought it had the potential to be either really cheesy or just really off.  For the most part, I think Brant did a good job of creating Austen-the-character, and it managed to be plausible (as far as such a scenario can be plausible; there is always the question of the reason Elie has Jane's voice in her head, but that resolution is a fun one).  There were times when I couldn't upkeep the willing suspension of disbelief, and found myself wondering if Elie was prone to slipping and speaking aloud to Jane, and thinking that even if she didn't slip up and speak aloud, she still had to have many moments where she just goes a bit blank and gets all internal, and that this must make people debate her sanity.   These thoughts intruded, but for the most part, I didn't let it bother me -- and it was an issue that wasn't completely ignored, either, which I have to give Brant credit for.

Many of the people in my bookclub didn't care for it, and I think the reasons -- beyond that of some of them not having read Jane, which obviously limited their view of the book -- I think that their reasons were some of those I picked up on.  There were those who just didn't buy the premise, and those who found Elie annoying.  I do want to talk about this one, because there were times when Elie was so desperate to be married and have a happily ever after ala Jane that she did bug me; most of the time, this wasn't the case, but this was a drawback for me.  Beyond these two bigger flaws, though, and some doubt about the (eventual, obvious) relationship between two main characters, my bookclub didn't offer too many reasons -- some didn't really like Sam, I don't think, and I'm not sure I buy the "maturity in hindsight" angle, but I have to admit I couldn't keep myself from liking him; even, like Elie, against my will.  I think overall it was more of a feel, and if they didn't get or like a feel for Elie, they checked out of the book pretty quickly.

Those who did like the book (self included), thought it very funny and light.  There is a certain scene (and man, I wish I could just share it with you) that is simple one of the funniest things I've ever read.  It's completely inappropriate and awful, but man, I laughed aloud and read it over and cringed and laughed all over again.   Let me say, you'll definitely know it when you read it, so when you do, just know I'm cringe/laughing along with you...  I also think the concept, where it worked, was a lot of fun and provided interest, and the contemporary take really worked for this.  The Austen obsession is in full effect in this, to the extreme, and it's fun to read because of that.  It's a frothy and sometimes silly, sometimes bittersweet story, and I enjoyed myself reading it.  And if your bookclub is anything like mine, can I just say that reading the more...risque bits aloud is a lot of fun...

Interview with Marilyn Brant, author of According To Jane

Today we've got a neato little interviewaith author Marilyn Brant; make sure you check out my interview of her book, According to Jane, and the accompanying giveaway!

marilynBook Rat: Thanks for joining us, Marilyn! Jane is seeing a resurgence in popularity in the last few years; why do you think this is?  
Marilyn Brant: I think there's something very appealing about the world of a Jane Austen novel to those of us in the 21st century--it's a quaint and more reserved era, yes, but it's also highly recognizable at its essence. Because Jane's characterizations are so universal and timeless, her work never really goes out of style, and I think modern readers appreciate these qualities a great deal. Jane had a tremendous gift for really seeing people--the way they acted in public vs. private, the way they revealed themselves through dialogue, the way they handled stress and insecurity, etc. She recognized the range and depth of human behavior and was a genius at showing it to her readers. Plus, since she didn't spend much time dwelling on the specifics of clothing or the political climate, her books have an intimate and relevant feel to them. When talking about promising relationships or annoying neighbors, there is not much difference between the conversations of Austen's time and those we could be having with friends or family today. So, her work comes across as remarkably contemporary, despite their Regency origins, and I think readers are increasingly appreciative of that. Admirers of Austen are also very passionate, and we want to share our love of her writing with everyone we meet--exponentially creating new, enthusiastic fans.

BR:  What attracted you to writing a Jane-inspired work?   
MB:  This is a really fascinating question for me. I'm interested in the term "Jane-inspired work" and have seen firsthand how Austen-esque fiction has developed into its own specialty genre. But, still, it's a relatively new genre to me personally. For instance, I actually had no knowledge that there was an Austen fan-fiction community until after I'd sold the novel (a four-year process from writing it to selling it), although I had come across a few works like Bridget Jones's Diary and the film "Clueless" that were a definite nod to Austen The idea to do something modern with an Austen slant, particularly something involving Darcy- and Elizabeth-like characters, had been percolating in the back of my imagination even before encountering those two projects, but reading Bridget Jones and watching "Clueless" inspired me to take my ideas more seriously. I wrote four other completed manuscripts (none of them remotely Austen-related) before even attempting According to Jane. I was absolutely floored when, after I'd submitted the book to agents and started winning some writing contests, I discovered there were other novels out there that were heavily influenced by Austen. Then, when a friend told me about the immense fan-fiction community, I was really stunned and impressed. I'd been operating under the uninformed assumption that only a handful of people were incorporating Jane's worldview or character traits into their books. Had I known there were THOUSANDS of aspiring writers playing tapping into her wisdom in their work, I'm sure I would've been very intimidated and, possibly, afraid to keep going with the story--LOL. So, I hadn't planned to write something geared toward the burgeoning "Jane-inspired" genre, I'd simply wanted to show how timeless and universal Jane's characterizations/insights into human behavior were to modern readers...and it turned out I found a new branch of fiction waiting for me!

BR:  What was the process like for creating Jane's "voice"?  
According To JaneMB:  It was a combination of the narrative tone she used in her novels, the style in which she wrote letters, a few real quotes, altogether too many Masterpiece Theater productions and the meticulous removal of all contractions in her speech. (I tried to get rid of anything that smacked of modern informalities. :) But, of course, it was my own impression of what Jane might have sounded like if I'd been chatting with her. I imagine others may well have a very different idea of her speech and the content of her conversation. One of the great joys of fiction is that a writer gets to explore his or her own little vision of the world and, for me, I had a lot of fun getting to play around with the Jane of my creation.

BR:  How much of "you" is there in Ellie?
MB:  Ellie is...kind of like me. She and I share a certain introspection and we each had a tendency toward perfectionism in school, plus, we were both children of ‘80s pop culture. However, I have only one sibling--an incredibly supportive and wonderful brother--so a lot of Ellie’s family issues were not drawn from real-life at all. As for dating, while I’ll admit to having made a lamentable boyfriend choice or two, I met my husband right out of college and was happily married pretty young. So, Ellie’s painful relationship problems were (thankfully) extrapolated from things I observed or they were exaggerated from some real events and grafted to modernized versions of scenes I found fascinating in Austen’s novels.

BR:  Any plans to incorporate Jane in any future novels or expand on According to Jane?  
MB:  That's something I'd love to do, but the time would have to be right for it... Someone asked me last fall if I'd consider writing a few scenes from the book in Sam's point of view, and I know I'd have a LOT of fun doing that! (It would have to be when I'm not in the middle of another book deadline, though.) I did leave open the possibility of a sequel to According to Jane but, again, that's a decision that will have to be made later--between my editor, my publisher and me. For now, I have two novels already slated to come out: Friday Mornings at Nine (October 1, 2010), which is about three married suburban moms who shake up their lives and their marriages when one of the friends starts corresponding with her college ex, and the book I'm currently writing, The Grand European (working title, October 2011), which is a modern nod to E.M. Forster's "A Room with a View" and heavily involves Italian ice cream and the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I'm very excited about these releases, and Austen fans should be able to spot a few subtle Jane references in them both!

BR:  If you were casting the movie version of According to Jane, who would you cast?  (including Jane's voice-over)  
MB:  Realistically, I know that if the film rights to the book ever sell, I'll have NO say whatsoever in this decision--not that it stops me from thinking about it! But this has always been a tough question for me for another reason--in my mind, as I wrote the book, none of my characters looked like actors I knew. They were always just individuals that I'd imagined. So, I found myself asking other people what THEY thought. In the past 8-9 months, some of my favorite responses were: Emma Thompson (for the Jane voice), Cory Monteith from Glee (for Jason), Robert Pattinson (for Sam), Emma Watson (for Ellie). Who do YOU think would be good??
BR:  Follow up: If you were compiling the soundtrack, which song/s would feature prominently? Oh!! I have a whole LIST! I put some them on my website (http://www.marilynbrant.com/MBbooksJANE.html) because no book I write exists without a soundtrack...the two are always very much linked for me.

Who is your favorite JA character?  Elizabeth Bennet (who wouldn't be charmed by her?)
Favorite side-character? Georgiana Darcy (I also find Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley and Captain Wentworth especially fascinating, but I think of them as 'heroes' not side-characters! :)
Character you most want to shake? Emma Woodhouse (so much intelligence, so many good intentions...such an insatiable meddler--LOL)

If you could visit any one location in one of Jane's novels -- besides Pemberley! -- what would it be and why?
MB:  Bath, England with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth! I'd want to visit the city for a day as it was back then, wander around the Pump Room, see and be seen...

BR:  Picture yourself as Charlotte (Lucas) Collins -- now, swallow back the horror of that and give us a brief idea of your day-to-day...How do you keep your sanity?  
MB:  With both Mr. Collins as a husband and Lady Catherine as an overbearing neighbor, I'm afraid any hope of sanity would be impossible. I would do my best (as Charlotte did) to keep to a fairly uninhabited part of the cottage, to encourage Mr. Collins to garden for long periods and to avoid crossing walking paths with Lady Catherine. I could also try to bury myself in books, take up needlepoint and invite diverting guests to visit. Perhaps I'd need to add another couple of hobbies--like drawing or writing. I'd imagine Charlotte would've been capable of composing excellent verses of poetry (that Mr. Collins would, invariably, not wish to listen to and Lady Catherine, if she deigned to read one, would be most critical of, of course).

BR:  Would you rather spend the day with Lady Catherine or Mrs. Bennet?  
MB:  Mrs. Bennet. However mind-numbingly annoying she might be, I don't think of her as having bad intentions. As perplexed as she is by life beyond her circle of gossip, she's really trying to do what she feels is best for her daughters. She loves them. Lady Catherine--though far more intelligent a woman--seems to primarily love her own sense of power.

BR:  Which "bad boy" would you rather end up with: Wickham or Willoughby?  
MB:  Willoughby, if I MUST end up with one. He strikes me as the lesser of two evils. I think of Willoughby as more misguided, socially over-ambitious and selfish than cruel. His genuine love of music gives him a few extra brownie points, in my opinion, and his regret at losing Marianne at the very end of the novel seems real. A man with a sense of remorse has SOME redeeming features. Wickham, on the other hand, is my definition of despicable. His hurtful actions are often premeditated. He is thoroughly manipulative. He repeatedly uses his charm to deceive and steal, fully aware of the consequences. He's beyond just being a "bad boy"...he's very bad news.

BR:  Thanks for doing this and being part of Jane in June! 
MB:  My pleasure, Misty! Thanks for inviting me ;-).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Interview with Austen's Heroes

I've got a special treat for you today; Melissa has managed to snag an interview with some of your favorite swoon-worthies.  Grab your folding fans, gals, and prepare to sigh...

Interview with the Austen Heroes
        There is a place in Great Britain hidden among prying eyes where all the great literary male and female figures go to relax. This place is called the “Literary Gentleman’s and Ladies Club”.  Here you’ll find all sorts of literary males and ladies from all genres conversing and having a grand time.  This is a place of enjoyment and escapement.  For the men it’s a haunt to escape prying eyes, wives, and fan girls. To the ladies a club to gossip, complain, and escape from the men.
       Today dear readers yours truly has gained entrance into this grand establishment. I cannot tell you how I gained entrance just know that it involved some questionable content that the owners of the establishment and subsequent patrons wish to keep hidden.  I was taken from my home, blindfolded, and I believe dumped in a trunk (I think I might have hit a nerve), and taken to the club’s secret location. After being pushed roughly through some type of foliage, by whom I believe are pirates, I finally stumble through a doorway. The blindfold is taken off and the sight is amazing.  I’m standing in a tall entranceway with multiple doors leading to various rooms. In the middle is a large curving staircase that appears to disappear out into thin air in the ceiling. The foyer appears to have had a bunch of decorations from eras and genre’s, thrown together, shaken, and then dumped into what I’m seeing now. The floor is a black and white checkered pattern topped with a rug from the Indies. The walls are a mixture of brick, log, and stone so that it appears that once one material ran out another was used. On them a variety of candles in gothic holdings, oil lamps, and gas lamps.  Finally, on the ceiling two giant chandlers drop down looking straight out of the early twentieth century. A butler stands ready to my left and inquires whom I’m there to meet.  I tell him my first interview is with the heroes of the Jane Austen novels. The butler quickly explains to me that the first two floors are the “Literary Gentleman’s” area. The next two the ladies. The fourth floor is for both sexes. The last is the servant quarters and holding cells for crazy fans who manage to find the place.  The butler leads me through a white gilded door on the right that looks to been stolen from a regency home. Inside it is what I believe a gentleman’s club would look like. There are large windows to my front; curtained to prevent me from finding out where I am. Two Billiard tables occupy opposite sides of the room. A variety of blue covered chairs and tables litters the floor. The room is crowded with men of all dress.  The butler leads to me a table at the far right where a variety of men sit waiting for me. Now don’t ask how I know these men are the ones I’m to be interviewing. It’s my little secret. I approach the table and thus the interview officially begins.
Myself: Hello gentleman. I’m your interviewer Melissa. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
C. Brandon: So you’re the young lady who’s blackmailing the club into getting an interview.
Myself: I don’t see it as blackmail. It’s more of an incentive to get access into an exclusive club.
Wentworth: Right…..
Knightly: You know. You look rather familiar.  Have we met before?
Myself: …..No….No… Never met…. Mr. Knightly. I’m not even sure who is speaking right now. Perhaps you gentlemen would do me the honor of introducing yourself to me.
Knightly: If we have never met how do you know who I am?
Myself: Readers intuition. It was just a guess, but you seem like the George Knightly I read in yours and Emma’s story.
Knightly glares at me.
Myself: Honestly. Just a guess.
Ferrars: Well I’ll do the honor of introducing everyone. I am Edward Ferrars.  The man you just spoke to was indeed Mr. George Knightly.  The gentleman in the navel hat is Captain Frederick Wentworth. The man in the red military uniform is Colonel Brandon. The strapping young man in the green is Henry Tilney. The man in the fawn color jacket and scowl is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. And finally Edmund Bertram.
Myself: Tis a pleasure to meet you all. May I start off by asking if this particular room is a favorite of yours or did you merely choose it to represent the era’s your stories take place in.
Knightly: I don’t know about the rest of the gentleman, but I choose it because not many scripts come here.
Myself: Pardon. Scripts?
C. Brandon: Those characters that come from movie scripts or film to book adaptations.
Myself: Ok….. You do realize that you all have been characterized in film.
Knightly: Yes, but our stories were written down first. People read us before they actually saw us. The scripts only came about because they were written for a movie. They’re annoying and quite frankly I prefer not be to around them.
Ferrars: Not all of them are bad. Captain Jack is quite the hoot. I have him and Blackbeard teaching me some new fencing moves that I plan to teach Margret later on. 
C. Brandon:  Some of them are, but others are insufferable. Commander Taggart from that adaption of Galaxy Quest makes me want to beat my head against the wall.
Myself: Ok, I believe I need to start a topic here before we start having a character flame party. Not that wouldn’t be interesting, but it really isn’t the point of this interview.
Darcy: What is the point of this interview anyway?
Myself: To give readers a chance to learn more about you and for you to get out of my head.
Darcy:  To get us out of your head…..
Myself: Yes my head. Don’t ask don’t tell.
Darcy: Ok…..
Myself: I first have some questions for you regarding your stories. First to Mr. Darcy why is it that you have trouble speaking to people you aren’t acquainted with.
Darcy: I believe I am what you call in this day and age an introvert.
Ferrars: Really? You introverted I would have never had guess. I thought you just like to stand quietly in the corner because you were admiring the scenery.
Darcy: *glares at Ferrars*As I was saying……I also find it hard to converse with people that I don’t know quite well out of the fact I don’t know quite what to say. I’m not a great people person by nature and I need to have a feel of the person before I can get comfortable enough to start conversing with them. Once I am comfortable with a person I find it much easier to talk.
Myself:  I can see that quite clearly from the book. Now what is it about Lizzie that attracted you to her?
Darcy: Her brains and wit. When she started talking I felt an immediate connection. I really liked that fact that I didn’t have to dumb down my words for her. She understood and I could talk as equals.
Mself: I can see how brains are far more attractive than stupidity. Speaking of stupidity how did you deal with the young Miss. Bingley all those months?
Darcy: Selective hearing and a large bottle of aspirin.
Myself: I can fathom many bottles of aspirin.
Darcy: Let’s just say I was asked many times if I felt like I had bad breath from taking so many mints.
Myself: Because aspirin look like mints. Clever. I now have a question for Mr. Bertrum.
Bertrum: Really? Here I thought I was just around so you could have the full set.
Myself: Course not. You’re here because you’re an Austen hero.  Now do you feel that the fact that you’re a vicar and fanny is a virtuous person was written to reflect the coming overly moral attitude that was about to sweep Jane’s society? Also did you just choose Fanny because of Miss. Crawford’s comments?
Bertrum:  It’s possible. You have to remember that my novel took place in a different era that the current one. The church reigned supreme and people were greatly concerned with morals.  The importance of self discipline, early hardships, and piety were of large concern. So while many of you may find my story boring the people of my day and age found it to be quite virtuous and charming. As to your other question I have no comment.
Myself: Well that’s no fun. A question or two for Mr. Knightly now.  Now Mr. Knightly it has been complained that you took way too long to confess your love to Emma. Do you feel that is so?
Knightly: No I don’t. It actually took me awhile to realize it. Sometimes when you’re in a comfortable relationship you fail to see that you may have bigger feelings for said person. This was the way it was for my feelings regarding Emma. It embarrassing enough Frank Churchill’s attentions to Emma made me realize that I did love her. I then decided to wait to see how Emma’s whole relationship with Frank turned out. If Frank did love Emma and she loved him back I would have gladly kept my feelings to myself for the sake of her own happiness.
Myself: How sweet!  Is there a reason you had originally decided not to marry?
Knightly: I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to settle on anything, but love.  Till Emma I had never really loved woman.
Myself: Finally some people are disgusted that you said you’ve loved Emma since she was 13. How do you care to respond to that?
Knightly: I was joking at that. I really didn’t mean it in that way. Dear goodness I don’t practice pedophilia. I meant that I’ve loved her for a very long time.
Myself: Thanks so much for answering the questions. Now to Mr. Ferrars.  Mr. Ferrars you’re described as an amiable young man, but also sometimes called a wuss. Care to respond.
Ferrars: I’m called a wuss really? I guess there were points in my story where I could fit the description. Needless to say I don’t always have the necessary backbone, but I like to think I do when it matters.
Myself: I can agree with that statement. You’re like Neville from the Harry Potter series.
Ferrars: I don’t know who that is, but I take it as a compliment. Thank You.
Myself: You’re welcome. Now you mentioned why you wanted to become a vicar in the book and I want to ask whether you had any role model in your choice of profession.
Ferrars: In a bit of a way. Growing up the the vicar in my village was a man by the name of Bartholomew Smythe.  He was always very cheery and had a nice thing to say about everyone. I asked him once what was the key to his happiness and he told me a quiet life. And fishing down by the creek on Mondays.  I’ve always admired him and wished to be as happy and cheerful as he was.
Myself: How cute. What a nice story.  Keeping in the same story let’s move onto Colonial Brandon.  Now are you retired Colonial?
C. Brandon: In a way. In case of an emergency I may be called upon to serve my country again.
Myself:  So you’re sort of in the reserves?
C. Brandon:  Not in the way you Americans think of it. I sold my commission when I left the military, but in a case of a major war and, if I so choose it, I may re-enter the military.
Myself: Some say you and Marianne belong together because you’re both each other’s second choice. Do you feel this is correct?
C. Brandon: No I don’t. I cannot speak for Marianne, but I love her just as much I loved my first love. There is no comparison and no second bests in my book.
Myself:  That’s the way things should be. Now to move onto Mr. Tilney.  I have two questions to ask you. The first is did you really marry Catherine because there was no-one better around? And the second what do you think of the 1987 remake of your book?
Mr. Tilney: The first is that no. I did not marry Catherine because there was no-one better around. I don’t see how people can perceive that.  I lived not far from Bath where there was an abundance of eligible young women. I could have easily married one of them if I had so chosen. Now I have to admit Catherine isn’t always the easiest person to get along with. Her flights of fancy can get a bit irritating sometimes, but I fell in love with her person. Not because she sometimes has disillusions about things. 
        To answer your second question I thought the adaptation was horrible. The movie did not accurately show who I am. It instead made me into this egocentric know it all that looked down upon everyone. Absolutely horrible I tell you.
Myself: I feel the same about the adaptation.  It really did make you out to be a class A a-hole.
Tilney: I’m not sure how to take that.
Myself: I’m only being honest. Now last but not the least in importance Captain Wentworth. Captain, I don’t believe you know how popular you are.  Many women positively swoon over you; especially your letter to Anne.  Can to tell me about it?
C. Wentworth:  First off I’d like to thank you for the compliment. It’s nice to know that Darcy is not the only Austen man capable of drawing women’s favor.   As to the letter it was really a spur of the moment thing. I find it much easier to write things down than to speak them. I may be as Mr. Darcy is an introvert.  As Anne was speaking my feelings kept coming forth and I therefore decided to write them down so they may be known to Anne.  I also decided to write a letter rather than speak my feelings to Anne since I believe that a letter offers a greater deal of privacy. I wanted Anne to truly be-able to give myself an honest answer without any chance of being persuaded otherwise. Now I knew when I wrote the letter that she was not the same girl I had originally fell in love with. She was much wiser and mature. In a way I loved her more now than I might have those years earlier on. It can also be said that perhaps the years apart was a great blessing upon our relationship because it made us both realize our mistakes and grow into ourselves.
Myself: Wow… I’m speechless. You certainly are a master of words Captain.
C. Wentworth: Thank you greatly.
Myself: You’re welcome and thank you gentleman for answering those questions.  I now want to know what you think of the expanded universe that has recently exploded that revolves around your tales. There has been stories revolving around your lives after your original story ended, your take on things, and adding a paranormal element to your lives. 
Knightly: Well I know for one that I’d like to say that none of the “expanded universe” is true.  I for one never authorized a “diary” written from my point of view.  I also remember reading “Emma in Love: Jane Austen's Emma Continued by Emma Tennant” and I started a drinking game out of it. Every time I bowed or Emma cried I took a drink. I was quite drunk by the middle of the book. Emma was not too happy to find me in that state and threw the book in the fire before I could finish it.
Ferrars: Speaking of diaries, how many dairies have you supposedly written now Darcy.
Darcy: Oh.. I’ve lost count.  I find it easier to just ignore it and the paparazzi. Lizzie and I had to hire some Ents to pretend to be trees and guard Pemberley.  The expanded universe just loves to hound my family.
Myself: So what do you think about the whole paranormal aspect your lives have taken? Your stories have been breached by mummies, werewolves, vampires..  Mr. Darcy you seem to be of particular fame in these accounts. You’ve been a vampire, a demon, and a zombie killer.
Darcy: You know I’ve never gotten the whole “Zombie” thing.  I mean there is no point in my story where someone dies or visits a graveyard. I would think it would be more appropriate to have “Wuthering Heights and Zombies”. Heathcliff would be fanatical. He’s loved to have Catherine back even as a zombie.
Tilney: True. The man is rather strange; digging up the grave of his dead lover just to stare at her. You should have heard Catherine when she heard the story. She went bonkers. Kept following the man around the place trying to see if Catherine really didn’t from illness but because he killed her and later felt guilty because of it. She’s just gobbling up these paranormal aspects of our stories.
Darcy: Tell me about it. She asked Lizzie the other day whether there was a reason I didn’t like garlic.
Tilney: She can be quite a handful let me tell you. It makes me wonder what started it all. For nearly 200 years our stories have been untarnished and now this. What is with this current obsession with the paranormal?
Myself: Blame it on a Mormon housewife who wrote down a wet dream and thought it was literature. The paranormal aspect of things became huge after the book was published.
C. Brandon: At least my story hasn’t been paranormaled yet.
Myself : Um… yes it has. Sense and Sensibility and sea monsters. You’re part-squid mutant.
C. Brandon: What?.....
Myself: I’m not joking.
C. Brandon: I’m going to go throw myself off a lighthouse,
Myself: Will it be the one that Elinor and Ferrars tend?
Ferras: I tend a lighthouse?
Myself: Yep and your completely human.
Ferras: Great. No mutant babies for Elinor and myself.
Brandon: Shall we get out of this subject before I kill some authors.
Myself: Certainly. Let’s talk fan girls.
A collective quiver is shot through the group. Some gentleman starts to look around as if to see if anyone was around.
Myself: I take it by your reaction that you all have quite a few. 
Wentworth: Ug, the fan girls. Do you know how many letters I get in the post every week from them? Hundreds.  I quite admire Anne for dealing with it. Thought she wasn’t too happy to hear about this one incident.
Myself: Oh do tell.
Wentworth: Well one day when I got back to my cabin upon my ship I found my door open. I went in and found my supposed new “cabin boy” was quite obviously female. She was on my bed wearing only a captain’s hat, high heels, and nothing else. I locked her in there and had the crew make haste to the nearest port to drop her off as quickly as possible.
Knightly: Really? How fascinating. You’ve never talked about this before Wentworth.
Wentworth: It was rather disturbing. I prefer not to dwell on it.
Knightly: Well something similar happened to me. There was this one girl one time who showed up at my private magistrate chamber wearing a Princess Leia bikini and begging me to let her work for my office or home. I had to have the stable hands drag her out.
Myself: Oh really…. That must have been quite a sight….. Mixed fandoms. It happens. Leia bikini outfit is popular for seduction I hear.
Knightly: You don’t say…. Are you sure we’ve never met before.
Myself: Positive. Has any of you other fine gentleman had crazy experiences?
C. Brandon: I’ve had women sent me letters and lingerie, but never had a crazy incident. Course there is a possibility that Marianne could have stopped the girl before getting to me.  Once when I was walking though the fields when a woman came up to me and told me that she thought I was always the best potions master Hogwarts have ever had. Still can’t figure that one out.
Darcy: At least you gents have had isolated incidents. I can’t go anywhere without getting mugged by fan girls. Another reason for the Ents. I’ve had everything done to me; naked women in rooms, letters, lingerie, drawling of myself and the girl. I’ve had women constantly dump water on me to get me wet. There is one thing I can never get why I’m asked though.
Myself: Really what is that?
Darcy: “Let me see your Sparkles”
Wentworth: I get that a lot too.
Tilney: Weirdo’s.
Myself:  Girls ask to see your sparkles?
All Heroes: Yes
Darcy:  Like we’re some bloody pixie or something.
C. Brandon:  The last time I saw a sparkling man was in a… *clears throat*… establishment. Needless to say these men were not there for the ladies.  No straight man sparkles.
Myself: Interesting.
Bertram: Yes, Yes. You all live such bloody hard lives. Poor you.
Myself: Oh my I forget you where here Mr. Bertram
Bertram:  Course you did. No-one ever remembers me. My story is always quoted as the least favorite or forgotten all together.  No fan girls throwing themselves up my alley. Instead I’m stuck at home with a wife with the personality of a stick.
Ferrars:  Personality of a stick?
Bertram: She has no personality dammit! I thought she was everything when she lived with my family, but as soon as we left the house I realized she only appeared sane compared to the rest of my household. 
C. Brandon: Isn’t there a popular series out right now with a girl with no personality.
Knightly:  I believe so. We only see the eldest patron of the family around her. Mutters to himself about what an idiot he was for changing someone and should have let them die from the fever. The star of the series is always out removing engines from the cars of his wife so she can’t visit anyone.  The other lead can be scene stalking the “Literary Children’s Club”.  Has some obsession with young children.
Wentworth: I believe the term “Be afraid of the big bad wolf came from him”. Certainly didn’t come from Wolfe. The guy cross dresses and plays poker with the three pigs.
Myself:  As amusing as this subject is we’re getting off topic.  Now Bertram, I’m really am sorry you feel that way.  It can’t be helped that you feel in love with a virtuous stick, but the fact remains that you did. And you story is rather boring. 
Bertram: *answers sarcastically* Thanks a lot.
Myself: The truth hurts. Perhaps if you had married Mary after all your story would be better liked. Now all of your stories have been in circulation for nary a hundred years has the fan girls gotten better or worse.
Wentworth: Worse. At the beginning there was certain decorum among the young women.  It was simply not done to throw oneself at a person. 
C. Brandon: Agreed.  Oh there was always letters of admiration. I believe we all used to get stitchery, chocolates, and favors such as those in the early days. Ever since the 1950’s the fan girls have gotten more aggressive and crazy.
Knightly: I blame that Elvis fellow; never met a man who had such a high opinion of himself.
Myself: Really? I could name quite a few men who stand upon a self made peddle stool.
Knightly: Oh I’m sure there are. It’s just Elvis is the one who started the craze in my opinion. He seemed to encourage the mass pandemonium of fan girls.
Myself: Does anyone disagree?
Ferras: I blame the Beatles.
Wentworth:  Gene Rodenberry and the whole star trek fandom.
C. Brandon:  Whatever the hell the Harry Potter fandom is that seems to be so popular. You know they opened an amusement park to it.  You should hear the characters gloat. I’m surprised their heads can fit through the doors with how big they’ve gotten.
Myself: Oh I know…… about the amusement park. I’m just dying to go.
Bertram: That can be arranged.
Myself: Myself going to the park?
Bertram: No you dying.
Myself: Shut up and go pout in the corner.
C. Brandon: As I was saying it has its own world. Why don’t we have a Jane Austen world? Our stories have been around much longer. Simply unfair.
Myself: You have a Jane Austen house and multiple societies.
C. Brandon: Not the same.
Myself:  No offense, but I think it might be a bit boring.
Tilney: Are you calling our stories boring?
Myself: Oh no. Just that there isn’t much in them to make a complete theme park. Hate to tell you but Harriet’s attack by the gypsies or Marianne’s long walks in the rain don’t exactly sound like appealing attractions.
Darcy: I think this interview is done.
Myself: Huh?
Darcy: You’ve insulted our stories and now you must leave.
Myself: I did no such thing. I merely suggested that your stories wouldn’t make for interesting theme park attractions.
Knightly: Oh because we wouldn’t have Hippogriff roller coasters or a giant Hogwarts Castle replica.
Myself: I hope not since it would be odd since none of those things occur in your stories.
At that comment I’m grabbed by Mr. Knightly and C. Brandon and unceremoniously dumped outside of the room. I feel a shoe hit my head and I believe its Mr. Bertram’s.   I wonder if I could say its Mr. Darcy’s and sell it on ebay.  Oh well. Off to my next interview.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...